Nanaimo cyclist riding to help 4-year-old family member battle leukemia

By Spencer Sterritt
August 23, 2017 - 3:30pm

Barrie Penrice has only cycled for two years and Saturday, Aug. 26 he's cycling in his second Ride to Conquer Cancer.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — A Nanaimo cyclist isn't letting his age stop him from pedalling to raise money for early cancer detection and more awareness.

Barrie Penrice, 71, is riding in the Ride to Conquer Cancer for the second year on Saturday, Aug. 26 from Cloverdale down to Seattle.

Last year he rode for his sister, who passed away in 1993 from ovarian cancer at the age of 45. This year he's riding for his four-year-old great-niece Tegan, who has downs syndrome and is battling leukemia.

“It's hard. It rips your heart when you see all the pain and suffering,” Penrice told NanaimoNewsNOW. “I'm an optimist and there's hope for new developments and treatments, so this year my ride is for Tegan.”

Since she was first diagnosed in March, 2017, Tegan has predominantly stayed at the BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, away from the family home in Kelowna.

“For her, it's a real struggle going through this treatment because she can't communicate as effectively as her other sisters, so there's been a lot of hurdles. (Her mother) said it's like a rollercoaster ride. There's been some heartwarming stories, there's been some tragedies,” Penrice said.

During the two day, 250 kilometre trip, Penrice said much of the time is spent in thought, thinking about friends and family members who've been affected by cancer.

“Sometimes you take your health for granted. But when you become associated with a loved one who's going through cancer treatment, or somebody that's passed, especially children, you have so much compassion and all you want to do is help.”

He said the most emotional moment during his first ride last year was seeing so many yellow flags on bikes, indicating those who had triumphed over cancer or were currently fighting it. He signed up immediately to ride this year when he finished the first trip.

The fact he's riding 250 kilometres is still shocking for Penrice. He only took up the sport two years before on a whim while wintering in Arizona.

Now he said it's a major aspect of his life and he logged 1,000 miles on his bike in the first three months.

“Who would have ever thought in your wildest dreams you'd be riding a bike across the border and showing your passport on a bicycle at this age?”

Penrice has exceeded the fundraising goal for the ride, raising $3,200 in a few months.

In eight years, the ride has raised more than $77 million for cancer research.

Info on the run and donations can be found online.



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On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit

Local crews working to extinguish small, likely human-caused fire south of Nanaimo